Saving precious time in Saudi Arabia

© Mammoet

© Mammoet
The Ma’aden Waad Al Shamal Phosphate Company (MWSPC), based in Saudi Arabia, operates some of the largest and busiest fertilizer plants anywhere in the world. Take, for example, the Umm Wu’al Sulphuric Acid and Power Plant, located in a new industrial city in the extreme northeast of the kingdom. Structured around three sulphuric acid trains containing a total of nine vast process towers, it produces almost 14 000 tonnes of fertilizer a day. And, as well as bringing wealth to this remote region, its integrated power plant provides 150 mW of clean electricity to the local population.

So, when the company was looking to upgrade the facility, and replace the original towers with cleaner, more efficient equivalents, it needed to keep downtime to an absolute minimum. To compound the issue, the towers had originally been stick-built, not designed to be lifted in one piece when they needed to be replaced. The conventional approach for dismantling them piece-by-piece would take several months for each train.   

Fluor, the project consultant, reached out to Mammoet for an audacious solution - to lift out the old towers in one piece. With careful planning, sophisticated computer modelling, the right equipment, and an expert team, Mammoet was able to develop the solution to delicately lift out the old towers intact, then maneuver the modular replacements into position.

To convince MWSPC and Fluor that this unlikely operation could be achieved, Mammoet prepared a detailed engineering study. 3D digital models of each tower were supplemented by a series of ultrasonic tests to reveal their true structure and strength. A finite element (FE) simulation showed how they would respond to the pressure of being hoisted out of the plant. And a series of bespoke frames and slings were designed to safely cradle the towers throughout the move.

© Mammoet

© Mammoet
A key requirement was to draft in the right equipment, and Mammoet had the ideal tools for the job, in the shape of two crawler cranes – the 1600 t capacity CC8800-1 and 1250 t capacity CC6800 – and the 3200 t MSG-80 ring crane. With this combination, it became possible to reach far above the tight confines of the site, extract all nine of the towers, move them to a central staging area, and hoist the replacements into position.

Abdullah Terkaoui, Project Manager for Mammoet explains: “Our methodology enabled our customers to reduce the planned shutdown schedule for each train from 120 days to 45 days. Then, as the operation progressed, further time savings were realised: the complete shutdown of the first train was completed in 30 days; the second shutdown, where the lifts took only seven days, enabling completion in 22 days; and, for the third, the lift took just three days, with a total mechanical completion in 19 days.” He added: “This meant that, thanks to the entire project team and everyone involved, all three shutdowns were completed two months (64 days) ahead of the original schedule – representing a time saving of over 50 %.“

Nayef Rowily, Project Director for MWSPC, has stated that considerable effort was put into reviewing Mammoet's plan repeatedly, while keeping in mind the nature of the job, which involved integration in a brown field and MWSPC's strong desire to maintain production: “This was accomplished through excellent teamwork, including assessing all risks associated with the scope. Ultimately, we are pleased with Mammoet's performance across all three SAP train tower replacements. They surpassed our expectations, and the site team did an exceptional job in delivering the project in record time. The MWSPC team takes pride in this significant achievement and recommends Mammoet's expertise on a global scale.”

Related articles:

Issue 06/2015

Warehouses for fertilizer plant in Saudi Arabia

In the north of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a project for the extraction and processing of the country’s rich phosphate deposits, known as Umm Wu’al EPC, is currently being developed. The Saudi...


Ma’aden Wa’ad Al Shamal Phosphate Company Contracts DuPont Clean Technologies for Turnaround Support

The Ma’aden Wa’ad Al Shamal Phosphate Company (MWSPC) has signed a service agreement for a period of three years with DuPont Clean Technologies (DuPont) for its sulfuric acid plant in Sirhan, in the...

Issue 05/2018 Trends in the phosphate industry

Capacities and consumption

1? Introduction The human population of the Earth currently numbers about 7.5 billion. Estimations published by the UN and the Population Reference Bureau see this number growing to just under 10...

Issue 01-02/2023

BEUMER Group: new partner for Saudi Arabia

BEUMER is strengthening its presence in Saudi Arabia and is continuing to expand its activities and customer support in Saudi Arabia, with a focus on the cement, building material and petrochemical...


Closer to the customers in Saudi Arabia

Endress+Hauser has invested roughly three million euros in a modern, state-of-the-art calibration and training center in the industrial city of Jubail, Saudi Arabia, thus strengthing direct contact...